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Off Topic - NFL Picks Week 14

Something different for you Maniacs. Most of you know I'm a big football fan and I know a lot of you are as well. I love the NFL and I love to write so I've combined the two since I've been writing on SBN and made a weekly picks and recap column. Normally I only post it at Cageside Seats but this week I'm going to post it here. I've been doing picks since 2001 and you guys can feel free to tear them apart in the comments. Or tell me how right I am. I'm okay with that too. Fair warning - there are 16 games and I tend to get carried away so this will be a long read if you go the whole way through. Alright, enough time wasted. In we go.

Indianapolis vs Tennessee
Can anybody tell me how it's possible Peyton Manning has thrown 11 interceptions in all of three games? He's still one of the best quarterbacks in the league but if he doesn't go back to his Superman ways, the Colts are going to do something they haven't done in what seems like forever -- miss the playoffs. Which is odd, considering how weak the AFC South is this year. It's a short week, seeing as this is the Thursday game, but the Titans should represent a nice remedy to what's been ailing this team. Dominic Rhodes resigning was long overdue and he should provide some really nice depth to the savagely injured backfield. The only chance Tennessee has of winning is if Chris Johnson goes off for 150 yards and 3 scores and I don't see it happening. Not because the Colts defense isn't capable of allowing that kind of a game to a running back of his considerable talent, but because the Titans are just a mess right now. Have to go with the proven winners. Colts 30-20

Cleveland vs Buffalo
Ugh. Games like this are horrific to pick. Just like with the Browns-Dolphins last week, this is either a really close game or it's a blowout. Last week I took the Browns to win a close win and that's what happened. They could do the same here but I'm inclined to think the Bills will get back to throwing the ball downfield and Stevie Johnson will actually hold onto it this time and it will be a big day for all involved. The Browns bring Peyton Hillis to town, an MVP candidate on a losing team, and with the Bills horrific run defense it's possible he goes off and they control the clock for most of the game. I'm just thinking Buffalo puts up a couple of early touchdowns which will force the Browns to play from behind. That takes Hillis out of the game and that's the winning strategy. Bills 27-21

New England vs Chicago
Anyone who has read these columns in the past knows that I'm a huge Bears fan. So if you see me say "we" I'm referring to the Bears. Yes, I do that. Anyway, I'm scared shitless by this game. Yes, we're 9-3 and playing as well as we have in years but the Patriots are coming off one of the biggest Monday night blowouts ever. And they didn't just blow out the Panthers. They just blew out the Jets, one of the best teams in the league and a division rival. Match-up wise, it doesn't look good. Tom Brady will shred the Bears soft zone coverage and methodically take his team down the field. The question is whether or not the Bears defense will clamp down in the red zone and hold New England to field goals. If they can do that, will they then be able to drive down the field and score enough points of their own? I feel good about the way the offense has come together during this five game winning streak but this game is truly the toughest test of the season. If they win they would surely become the favorites to win the Super Bowl, right? Bears 24-23

Green Bay vs Detroit
I can just imagine Drew clicking into the column, seeing the format and then looking for the Lions synopsis wondering how bad I trash them. Ha. I can't do it though. Watching how well they played against us last week with their third string quarterback, I have to admit, I was extremely impressed. That said, good teams find a way to win and bad teams find a way to lose. That's exactly what Detroit did last week and that's exactly what they will do this week. They might put up a few points but there is just no way they hold the Packers under 20, which is the number I believe they would need to hold them under in order to have a chance to win. Aaron Rodgers is playing too well and the Lions don't have the depth in the secondary to compete with the dynamic Green Bay receiving corps. Sorry Drew. Packers 34-21

NY Giants vs Minnesota
Previous readers of this column, on top of knowing my love for the Bears, know of my deep hatred for the Vikings and my even deeper hatred for all things related to Brett Favre. I'm not going to say I enjoyed seeing him get slammed to the turf last week and knocked out of the game but I'm not going to say I changed the channel when they showed the replay. I may have also rewound it and watched it like twenty times. Either way, it pains me to admit that they're playing really well right now and it wouldn't shock me a bit if they upset the Giants. Does New York have a good enough defense to contain Adrian Peterson for four quarters? I think they do and I'm counting on Eli Manning not to make his usual back-breaking mistakes. Giants 23-20

Cincinnati vs Pittsburgh
Division games like this are always tricky. On paper, the Steelers should blow them out. Carson Palmer is exactly the kind of quarterback the ultra aggressive Pittsburgh defense feeds on. He's immobile and prone to making mistakes. The Steelers are also number one in the league against the run, allowing just 62 yards a game, so it's not like Cincy can rely on Cedric Benson to get them through. It's tricky though, because they're playing the Steelers at just the right time. It's in Pittsburgh and they've lost enough games to not be considered a threat. On top of that, the Steelers are coming off an extremely hard fought and emotional win at Baltimore. I'm not going to go full out and take the upset here but if it happens, don't be shocked. Steelers 24-20

Tampa Bay vs Washington
Good god, the Redskins are a mess. Hiring Mike Shanahan was a mistake. So was bringing in Donovan McNabb. An already abysmal season has only gotten worse with the news coming down that the team suspended Albert Haynesworth for the rest of the year for "conduct detrimental to the team." Which is their way of telling him to fuck off for being a dick. Sadly, it's not much of a loss because he's been mailing it in for quite some time now. In short, it's the perfect time for the Buccaneers to be coming to town. This is a Tampa team that desperately needs to win if they want to hold any hopes of making the playoffs. You know what though? I'm thinking they'll blow it. They're too young to handle games like this one. Give me the (mini) upset. My buddy Chad Dukes should be happy for a week. Redskins 21-17

Atlanta vs Carolina
Normally the rule is, like in the Steelers-Bengals game, if it's a divisional game, no matter how big of a mismatch it appears to be, there is always the possibility of a major upset, just because the teams know each other so well. Two words for why that won't happen here. Jimmy Clausen. Have you seen this kid play? Makes you wonder what the hell they saw in this kid when they drafted him. He's had his moments this year but there is no way in hell he's good enough to hang with (arguably) the best team in the NFC. That's not even mentioning the kind of field day Matt Ryan and the offense should have on the shaky Carolina secondary. Easy pick. Falcons 30-10

Oakland vs Jacksonville
Tough game. Should be a good one. Close games like this, you have to look for smaller factors that come into play. Like the fact that the Raiders will have to travel all the way across the country for an early start game. Not only that but their strength is in their pass defense. Their weakness? Rush defense. The Jaguars strength? Rush offense. You know what that means -- another big game for Maurice Jones-Drew. The thing that sucks about this is that I want the Raiders to do well. I like it when the old school greats like Oakland and Kansas City do well. It just makes the league feel right when those teams are winning. Unfortunately, the Raiders don't have the offense to keep up with Jacksonville. Jaguars 26-13

Seattle vs San Francisco
How sad and pathetic is it that the 49ers are currently 4-8 and still have a chance to win the NFC West? Is that not the most disgusting thing happening in the NFL right now? They have three division games left and if they win all three and get some help, they could feasibly take the division and host a playoff game in January. What makes it even more sad is I actually think it might happen. The Seahawks have veteran leadership and Mike Williams coming back into the lineup should help matters but I'm feeling Frisco here. Troy Smith has been officially bounced from the starting lineup and Alex Smith will be back under center come Sunday. I may be one of the few guys on earth who still believe he can bring something to the table. This pick could blow up in my face but I'm going with the men in gold. 49ers 23-21

St. Louis vs New Orleans
If the playoffs started this week, this would be one of the Wildcard match-ups, except it would be played in St. Louis instead of New Orleans. It wouldn't matter where the game was played, it's going to end the same. The Rams defense has been a high point for the team for the duration of the season but they simply aren't talented enough to hang with the many weapons the Saints bring to the table. Who do they have to cover Marques Colston? What about Robert Meachem? And Devery Henderson? Jeremy Shockey? Now that Chris Ivory has made a name for himself out of the backfield this is going to be a difficult team to stop. There are teams that can do just that but the Rams aren't one of them. Saints 37-17

Miami vs NY Jets
If you're a Jets fan, I just have to apologize to you. Seriously, that unholy ass whooping the Patriots just laid on you was sickening to watch. The fact that they were up so big and still going for it on fourth down and converting was just embarrassing. That said, I'll believe the Jets are still a great team depending on the way they bounce back from a game like that. Before the Pats game, they had been winning a lot of close ones that looked fishy. Did New England pull the cover back? Or was that an aberration? They can answer that with an impressive win over a struggling Dolphins team. The loss of Jim Leonhard clearly affected the secondary but Chad Henne will give the ball away if you can pressure him and that's likely what the plan will be for New York. A loss wouldn't mean the end of their playoff hopes but it would certainly go a long way in showing those close wins were more a function of who they were playing instead of who they really are. They should take care of business and remove all doubt. Jets 27-7

Denver vs Arizona
Josh McDaniels is out as head coach. Seems like it just came out of nowhere but it didn't. He was a loose cannon that did nothing to help that franchise. I will forever be grateful to him though. He is the reason the Bears ended up with Jay Cutler. For as much as I hate him sometimes for the stupid interceptions he throws, I would much rather have him than Kyle Orton. McDaniels is also a proven cheater and on top of that he drafted Tim Tebow. There is simply no defense for even drafting that joke of a football player, let alone in the first round. All that said, they are going to smash the Cardinals because, simply put, the Cardinals suck. They are ranked at the bottom of the league in every major statistical category and they stopped caring a long time ago. Blowout city. Broncos 38-10

Kansas City vs San Diego
There is just no way this game will be as fun as these teams first meeting. That was all the way back in the opening week of the season and the Chiefs won a highly emotional hard fought game, mainly on the strength of their special teams. That theme has repeated itself for San Diego this year, as most of the six games they've lost have been largely due to faulty play in the third phase. So how will this game play out? I think the Chiefs need to focus solely on getting the running game going and never go away from it. Matt Cassel can not be trusted to effectively throw the ball on the leagues number one defense against the pass. Running the ball with success means controlling the clock, which in turn means keeping Philip Rivers and the number two offense in the league off the field. Can Kansas City implement that gameplan and find enough success to take this one home? I don't think so. The game is too big for them. A win would essentially clinch the division for them. They won't travel well and they might get blown out here. Chargers 34-24

Philadelphia vs Dallas
The Eagles will come rolling into Dallas on 10 days worth of rest, while the Cowboys are coming off an extremely hard fought overtime win against the Colts. As well as Dallas has been playing since Jason Garrett took over as Head Coach, it's time for that letdown game. The Eagles are too athletic for the Cowboys and have too much speed on offense. Mike Vick, as much as I despise him and everything he stands for, brings enough tools to the show that the Cowboys will have to focus their gameplan solely on him and that opens things up downfield for the speedy outside receivers. Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson might have big days and if they don't, LeSean McCoy is coming out of the backfield. Dallas is not going to stop the Eagles from scoring, so they'll have to win a shootout. I love the way Jon Kitna has been running the offense in the absence of Tony Romo but he's not built to orchestrate repeated long touchdown drives. That means they're just not going to get it done. Eagles 31-24

Baltimore vs Houston
I've had a running rule throughout the year that the Texans have to hold their opponent to less than 24 points in order for them to have a chance at winning. Any game in which I feel like they can do that, I'll pick them. Now, the Ravens are no powerhouse on offense. But they've got enough to score 24. Anquan Boldin is still a force. Derrick Mason and T.J. Houshmandzadeh provide excellent support and Ray Rice is a little stick of dynamite out of the backfield. Joe Flacco is a trusty arm who should be pissed off after the way he played last week against the Steelers. It will be a welcome change to run up against one of the leagues worst defenses after playing one of the leagues best. For what it's worth, I hope Arian Foster goes off because I need him to perform well so I can make the playoffs in my fantasy league. Whether he does or not, the Texans aren't winning this game and the loss will effectively end their season. Ravens 27-20

There you have it, Maniacs. Don't hold back on me on this one. If I shit on your favorite team, tell me why I'm wrong.

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